Colombo, Feb 29 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government has decided not to sign the $480 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement with the US, taking into consideration the recommendations of a Committee that found some of its features threaten national security and welfare of the island nation, it was reported.
The four-member Committee headed by Professor Lalithasiri Gunaruwan, which submitted its interim report to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last week, said there were clauses and conditions in the agreement that would negatively affect national goals and objectives, sovereignty, and national security, and were inconsistent with the legal framework and Constitution, the Daily Financial Times quoted Minister Bandula Gunawardena as saying on Friday.
The report was presented to the Cabinet by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday following which the decision was taken not to sign the agreement, he said.
"This agreement was drawn up by the UNP (United National Party) according to its whims, without taking the interests of the country into consideration. We warned about this during the elections..." Gunawardena said.
"We are open to discussing this agreement with the US government, but it will be done with full transparency. If any agreement is signed it will be with Cabinet approval as well as with the consent of Parliament and the public," he added.
The two components of the MCC programme are transportation infrastructure development and land administration, with $350 million for the transport project, which was to focus on modernising bus transport and improving traffic management systems, while the smaller component of around $60 million was for a plan to improve the land administration policy in Sri Lanka, said the Daily Financial Times in the report.
Asked if the Government would reconsider two other agreements signed with the US government -- the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Acquisition and Cross Services Agreement (ACSA) -- Gunawardena said the government would not overturn any agreements that have already been signed.